Nico Rosberg has given the new-specification engine he ran unsuccessfully during the Italian Grand Prix weekend its first outing since Monza by completing a handful of laps in practice at Suzuka.
With wet conditions giving the teams little scope for set-up work, Rosberg used the opportunity to sample the repaired engine that was 'contaminated' during the Monza weekend as Mercedes look race it before the end of the season.
The German ended the day second fastest behind Red Bull's Daniil Kvyat after posting his best lap at the start of the 90-minute afternoon session, when the rain briefly abated enough for intermediates to provide improvements. When the weather closed in again, the teams switched to focusing more on specific details of their preparation, with Rosberg unable to close the 0.023secs gap to top spot.
“We tried [the engine] the whole day for the first time after Monza to see if it's working okay and it seems to be working fine,” he reported, “Let's see what we can do with it for the future.
“It was an okay day to practice some starts and practice driving in the wet, not for this race because it will probably be dry on Saturday and Sunday, but for future races, because it could be wet all of a sudden at the next one in Russia or the one after that,” the Mercedes driver admitted, “It's always good to practice. I was happy with the car and everything was okay, but it's a difficult circuit here in the wet.”
When it was suggested that Kvyat's pace meant little with regard to the remainder of the weekend, Rosberg insisted that the times had to be taken on merit.
“He was quick and the times are pretty much representative,” he claimed, “RBR are right behind us at the moment, but the wet is a different world of course.”
With regard to Singapore issue, the Rosberg showed no signs of ongoing concern, despite the fact that much of his Japanese preparation would now be confined to the 60 minutes of running in FP3 on Saturday morning.
“We are confident because it's the same car that has won all those races prior to Singapore and we haven't changed anything,” he pointed out, “We still think we are looking good and we are going to be quick and we are not panicking or anything.
“It will be a challenge for everyone tomorrow because it's just one hour to prepare in the dry for everything in qualifying and the race – and let's see if it's dry because we don't even know that. It will be intense.”